Another Rendezvous, with Surprises...
There’s always a bit of mystery with Rendezvous, and this year there are three of them really worth seeing and being absorbed by. All three are based on real stories, are stylish (they’re French, after all), and sui generis.
First, Cedric Jiminez’ The Connection (La French), a close relative of the classic French Connection, William Friedkin’s 1971 tougher-than-nails take on the Marseilles drug trade. The Connection reflects the original in a trans-Atlantic mirror that gives us a smart, fast 35mm policier whose period details are highlighted by the pleasures of Jean Dujardin’s flawless turn as a tough magistrate who cannot be bought, cannot be frightened, and won’t give up. The Artist’s leading man still has a heart of gold, but proves here he can turn it into steel if required.
Next up, SK1—a case that transfixed France from 1981 to 1997, when serial killer/rapist Guy Georges (Adama Niane) attacked seven women. He is defended by attorney Natalie Bye and relentlessly tracked by Frank Magne (Raphaël Personnaz, seen earlier as the political neophyte in The Prime Minister). Georges’ backstory, revealed almost accidentally, describes the creation of a monster by childhood abuse. Nianne makes him human, and director Frédérique Tellier crafts a first-rate thriller out of facts and emotions.
Next Time, I’ll Aim for the Heart (Cédric Anger) is a real honey (if one can so describe its silky-smooth spider web of mounting tension and serious creep factor). Last seen at Rendezvous riding an underdog steeplechase winner in Jappeloup, and frequently referred to as a rising international actor, writer and director, Guillaume Canet hypnotizes as a truly scary rogue cop. But don’t hold his hunk quotient against him—the movie fits him like a glove. You can see him in person in discussion with Variety critic Scott Foundas; admission free (Tuesday, March 10, 5:30pm, Elinor Bunin Munroe amphitheater).
Fidelio, Alice’s Odyssey (Lucie Bourleteau): this boat floats for many reasons: its cast (the luminous Ariane Labed; Melvil Poupaud (who has aged well out of his adolescent self-absorption in A Summer’s Tale), and the welcome reappearance of Anders Danielsen (Oslo, August 31). Then there is the freshness of the setting—a rusted tramp steamer kept chugging by Chief Engineer Lebed, the only woman among a polyglot (and randy) crew. There’s plenty of steam in the engine room and the quarters, a story with surprising turns and some fascinating (and realistic) glimpses of life at sea. Dive in—the water’s fine.
My Friend Victoria (Jean-Paul Civeyrac, based on a story by Doris Lessing.) A quiet, complex and layered film that gives voice to France’s changing attitudes toward race and money through its portrait of a young woman who learns her life lessons by default and an innate sense of honor. Victoria makes its points in unexpected ways, and involves you before you’re even aware of how deep its graceful scenes can cut.
Miss The Smallest Apartment in Paris (Hėlèna Villovitch) at your peril. Villovitch is a smart, adept and profoundly witty filmmaker who packs civilization and its many discontents into 16 square meters of living space in 15 minutes. This is the last, hilarious word on the urban housing crisis and should be required viewing for every developer in town. For complete Rendezvous schedule: films and tickets